FLAC publishes guide to improved Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears
18 January 2011
"The focus must be to keep people in their homes"
The independent legal rights organisation FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) has issued guidelines to assist borrowers in understanding a revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears issued by the Financial Regulator. The revised Code, which governs the conduct of lenders in relation to arrears on family homes, came into effect on January 1st 2011. FLAC has called for all lenders to make the code widely available.
Commenting on the revised Code, FLAC Director General, Noeline Blackwell believes: "The first thing that people need to deal with any problem is adequate information. It is essential that they can readily access this Code of Conduct even before they meet their lenders, so that they can make themselves familiar with what is likely to happen. FLAC believes that the code should be readily available in every branch of every lending institution."
Paul Joyce, Senior Policy Researcher with FLAC and a member of the 2010 Government-appointed Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt says "The purpose of the Code is to set out a framework that all lenders must use when dealing with borrowers in arrears or facing arrears with their mortgage. The Code calls this framework the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) and the aim of this process is to avoid the repossession of family homes by putting in place alternative repayment arrangements for the mortgage where the borrower cannot make full monthly payments."
However, Noeline Blackwell stressed that "the code is only a partial solution for those with sustainable mortgages which can be paid off in full eventually. Given the indicated rise in interest rates, and the reduced pay packets for so many, there is an urgent need for much wider reform to deal with those who despair of dealing with their overall debt situation. FLAC is seeking commitments from all political parties to treat this as a priority issue in the upcoming election."
1. FLAC's Factsheet explaining the new revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears is available on the FLAC website - www.flac.ie.
2. The new revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears was issued by the Financial Regulator, the office of which is now incorporated into the Central Bank. It is available to download at www.financialregulator.ie/processes/consumer-protection-code/documents/code-of-conduct-on-mortgage-arrears/documents. The Financial Regulator first issued a Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears in February 2009 and updated this in February 2010. The new Code came into effect on 1st January 2011.
3. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation which works to promote equal access to justice for all. It runs a lo-call telephone information line giving general legal information and supports a network of evening FLAC clinics around Ireland. FLAC has produced research reports in the area of personal debt: 'An Ends Based Means' and 'To No One's Credit' in 2003 and 2009 respectively.